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Hock Tarsus Fluid in a Horse

Updated February 21, 2017

The hocks---easily bumped and jostled---are particularly injury-prone parts of a horse's anatomy. In most cases, hock injuries that cause the build-up of tarsal synovial fluid are easily detectable and treatable and will not lead to long-term conditions.

Overview of Hock Injuries

Fluid build-up in the hocks is often caused by a bog spavin or bursitis of the hock---commonly known as capped hock. Both are easily treated if detected early, but they tend to recur unless preventive measures are taken.

Identifying a Bog Spavin

Bog spavins are most often the result of weak hocks, but any trauma to the hock area may cause them. A bog spavin produces a noticeable, soft swelling on the inside of the hock. If you manipulate the swollen area, you may feel the fluid move.

Treating a Bone Spavin

Lameness in conjunction with a bog spavin may indicate osteocondritis, a disease that most often affects fast-growing horses. It requires immediate veterinary care. When no lameness is apparent, careful exercise may reduce swelling. Attention to proper shodding is essential. If swelling persists, a veterinarian may choose to drain the fluid or prescribe medication to reduce swelling and improve hock health.

Identifying a Capped Hock

Trauma to the hock area is the most common cause of a capped hock, which produces a lemon-size, soft swelling on the tip of the hock. Pain may develop over time.

Treating a Capped Hock

A capped hock requires immediate veterinary care to prevent swelling from forming a permanent subcutaneous bursa. A veterinarian may drain the fluid and prescribe rest, a series of cortisone injections, or other anti-inflammatory measures.

Living Quarters

Either condition---a bone spavin or capped hock---should prompt an inspection of the horse's living quarters to identify potential dangers.

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About the Author

Jake Essene began writing in 1993 and has published articles in regional newspapers such as the "Daily Intelligencer" and legal journals such as the "Ohio Northern Law Review." Essene earned a Bachelor of Science in theology at Philadelphia Biblical University, with additional studies in archeology at the Jerusalem University College. He then earned a Juris Doctor at the Pettit College of Law.